Don’t Get Left Behind: The Time Is Now

SEMA News—January 2018

Don’t Get Left Behind: The Time Is Now

It used to be that you had only a couple of choices when it came to shopping: You could drive to the store, or you could order out of a catalog. Today, catalogs hardly exist, and only 60% of automotive specialty-equipment sales occur inside a store. Online sales continue to grow as a percentage of overall aftermarket parts purchases and will surpass other channels within a relatively short period. Manufacturers need to understand consumer purchase behaviors to fully grasp the importance of a robust e-commerce presence.

Consider these statistics:

  • e-commerce sales have grown from 3.5% in 2008 to about 9% of U.S. retail sales in 2017 (U.S. Department of Commerce).
  • The percentage of Americans purchasing online grew from 22% in 2000 to 79% in 2016 (Pew Research Center).
  • 85% of buyers start their product research online when making a purchase greater than $500 (Synchrony Financial).
  • 94% of shoppers will abandon a site or give up if they can’t find the information they need (Salsify).

Why are these statistics important? The first two points show the continued rise of e-commerce as a powerful purchase path: 9% of U.S. retail sales in 2017 will be made online, and four out of five Americans made online purchases in 2016. What is not evident in these statistics is the frequency of purchases. According to a Statista survey, 29% of internet users stated that they purchased goods online at least once per week. Eye opening.

That information alone should give pause to any manufacturers that are not giving due attention to the state of their product data. It is interesting to note that even purchases made in stores are likely to start with online research: 85% of buyers start the product research process online if the purchase is greater than $500, but better than nine in 10 shoppers will abandon a site if they can’t find the information they need.

In simple terms, these statistics boil down to a straightforward truth: Good product data matters.

Most manufacturers will likely agree that a strong product presentation is important. Smart manufacturers are paying attention to the buying behaviors and needs of their customers. They are getting their data in order and taking market share.

Don’t get left behind. The time to get on board is now.

The SEMA Data Co-op recognizes that the work that must be done to create good product data can sometimes be challenging, and we are here to help. To that end, we have spent a good deal of time enhancing our systems and broadening our do-it-for-me capabilities.

One of our major projects last year was a complete redesign of our online data-management tool’s user interface. While our system was quite technologically advanced, we received feedback that it could be a bit more user-friendly, and we agreed. We recently released our new user interface, which matches functional technical sophistication with an improved overall user experience. The new system provides a clean, ergonomic interface that is easy to navigate and intuitive to use.

While the new interface has been enhanced in both form and function, we recognize that there are manufacturers out there that could still use some help getting their data in order. With our do-it-for-me data services, we can assist with any step in the data-management process, whether it be starting from scratch or refining existing content to improve data quality. Our approach is designed to create the best electronic representation of a manufacturer’s products.

Again, good product data matters. We encourage any manufacturers that feel they could use some help to contact us. We stand ready to assist. 

To learn more about how you can take control and manage your product data at the lowest possible cost, contact SEMA Data Co-op Senior Director of Membership Jim Graven via email at or by phone at 888-958-6698 x4.

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